Breaking Point by Lindsay Mckenna

Breaking Point

by Lindsay Mckenna

Shadow Warriors book 5

Genre: Military romance

Published: 29th April 2014 by Harlequin HQN

352 Pages

A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In the line of fire…

OPERATION SHADOW WARRIORS

An ongoing U.S. military experiment to test the integration of trained female military operatives in live combat scenarios…

The Alpha Platoon. A unit of Navy SEALs stationed in the unforgiving dryness of Afghanistan…who just learned that their newest team member is a woman. But Bay Thorn has a spine of steel—and the chops to prove it. Without a team to back her up, however, she’s dead in the water. And her only ally is Gabe Griffin, a lone SEAL who is lethal, dangerous and unbearably attractive….

Between the open hostility from her team and the harsh Al Qaeda territory, Gabe is a lifeline for Bay. But mutual respect quickly grows into mutual attraction. And with each day and every assignment, the longing only deepens.

They mustn’t speak of it. Mustn’t act on it. Because in this line of work, falling in love can get you killed.

I have a lot to say about this book so this might get a little long. Also in order to get my point across there may also be a few spoilers too so consider yourself warned.

I firmly believe that woman in the military should be able to fight on the front line. I believe passionately that they would as good as men in a war situation. (I am in the process of joining the military so I know a little about it). For that reason I wanted to read this book, the blurb made it sound like Bay Thorn (The main character) would be on the front line in Afghanistan fighting not only against the bad guys but against a sexist system that believes woman are not capable of handling combat situations. I wanted to see her struggles, I wanted to see her be strong. Apparently I wanted too much.

In the end I didn’t get what I wanted. If I am honest I felt this was a bit of a mess and it was impossible to take seriously.

Firstly the writing was not up to par for a modern day romance. I felt the military talk was great but when it came to the romance it got cheesy and beyond old fashioned. The way the two main characters spoke about their feelings to one another was enough to make me laugh out loud. They couldn’t just sit down like a normal couple instead that had to explain how they made each other feel all the time. It was horrible and it sounded like it belonged in a 1980s mills and boons book.

Secondly the main character was irritating. Bay Thorn is perfection personified she can do no wrong and everyone loves her. In fact I think everyone was put on Earth just to gush about how glorious she is. I loved the way she just strolled into the Navy SEALs and was better than everyone else at everything. She can even out shoot a trained sniper in a shooting competition because her daddy taught her how to hunt. It isn’t always plain sailing, some of the men have some reservations about her being there which to be honest is understandable. But everything turns out ok because Bay gives them cookies, thank god for baked goods. I am surprised she didn’t hand them out in gun fights to tame the enemy. Bay is a fighter, a healer, a natural nurturer. She is hot and down to earth and loyal and everyone thinks the sun shines out of her behind. It was just too much for me I needed her to be tough, to be a dirty fighter and prove to everyone that she had as much right to be there as anyone else. I wanted the journey to be harder than what it was because that is realistic. Instead I got fluff.

The romance suffered because of Bay’s Mary Sue-ness. How Gabe was able to form a sentence in her presence is beyond me. He is so besotted with her I am surprised he could function around her. His only purpose in the whole book was to remind all the readers how fantastic she is. He didn’t do much else to be honest and because of that I couldn’t connect to him at all.

It isn’t all bad news the action scenes were great and I wish there had been more of them. Lindsay McKenna is really good at creating pulse pounding action scenes. There was a helicopter crash that was just fantastic and proved that beneath the cheesy dialogue and Mary Sue characters McKenna is capable of producing some high class writing. The problem is there wasn’t enough moments like these to really make an impact for me.

Although it has nothing to do with the review for this book I have to talk briefly about its follow up. I have heard that the next book in the series is going to feature the same characters again and that Bay will be taken hostage, raped, tortured and then lose her memory. I think this is the worse idea ever not because it’s hard but because I don’t think it is needed. These books would have been great if they had been about the struggle woman face on the front line in the military, isn’t that enough? I get fed up of author’s resorting to rape and violence when they want their female characters to go through a hard time or for a romance to be tested. There was an opportunity to do a lot more with a story like this and I am sad that rape is the way the author has chosen to go.

Breaking Point had some good and bad moments but overall it wasn’t for me.

 2 stars

 

Skin Deep by Pamela Clare

Skin Deep

by Pamela Clare

Genre: Western, Crime, Romance, erotica, Drama.

Kindle Edition, 181 pages, Published May 15th 2012 by Pamela Clare
Book 5 in The I-Team series, althought it can be read as a stand alone.
Megan Hunter has worked hard to get back on her feet, leaving the nightmare of her teenage years behind. The last thing she wants or needs in her life is a man. But when she is attacked by someone from her past, a scarred stranger intervenes, saving her life and that of her little girl. Looks can be deceiving, for despite the man’s rough appearance, she feels safe with him. And for the first time in her life, she knows the stirrings of desire.  Nathaniel West paid a high price serving with the Marines in Afghanistan. He returned to his family’s ranch in the Colorado mountains to heal—and be alone. Disfigured as he is, he has put all thoughts of sex and romance aside. But something about Megan brings him back to life, heats his blood, makes him feel like a man again. As danger pursues her, and the truth about her past is revealed, he vows to protect her—and to heal her wounded spirit.  But confronting the past is never easy—especially when it’s carrying a gun. Megan will have to learn to trust Nate to survive and to claim a passion that is much more than …  Skin Deep.

There is something about a scarred and broken hero; I fall for them all the time.  (See Z in BDB, V in V for Vendetta and The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera for examples of scarred and broken men who own me.)  Add in the fact that the male character in this book is not only scarred but ex-military AND a cowboy and well, I never stood a chance.  I was in love with Nate before I even read the first page of this book and luckily he didn’t disappoint me.

I really liked this story.  It was short, sweet and had all the elements needed for a good book.  I loved the story line even though I have seen similar stuff before.  What is different with Skin Deep is the way the characters handle the situation they are in.  There is no unneeded angst or drama.  Megan isn’t some self-pitying, dramatic victim that we are all used to reading about.  Nate is not some over protective borderline abusive Neanderthal.  In Skin Deep the characters act like actual human beings, which was really refreshing.

All the characters are likeable in this book apart from the bad guys who are just awful.  They were all well-rounded and believable.  The author has also managed to write a child character that is not teeth grittingly annoying, instead she is cute.

I loved the romance in this book.  It was not about sex; instead it was about two people learning to trust again, it was about rebuilding your life after losing everything.  I liked Megan and Nate apart but I loved them together.

I have read a lot (and I mean A LOT) of western/rancher romance this year and so far Skin Deep is by far my favourite.  I look forward to reading more from this series and more from this author.

My Rating 4 out of 5 stars 

Check out the links: Goodreads, Amazon, AmazonUK, Authors Webpage

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Let me in by Callie Croix

Let Me In

by Callie Croix

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Drama, BDSM (not really)

ebook, 103 pages, Published May 21st 2012 by Carina Press

*The publisher provided me with this book for review, via Netgalley*

On leave for Thanksgiving, the last thing marine lieutenant Talia Barnett expects to find is Liam Brodie waiting for her at the airport. He’s had a starring role in her fantasies for the past two years, and although she’d love to make them a reality, she has a dark secret that prevents her from taking things further. A former marine, Liam’s specialty is planning tactical operations, and that’s just what he plans to do to win Talia. The woman has kept him at arm’s length for too long, and this time he’s finally going to claim her—body and heart. What begins as comfort quickly turns hot. When Liam shows Talia a hint of the dominant nature inside him, the submissive part of her flares to life. Though she desires him, she’s going back on deployment and doesn’t want to dump all her drama on him. Will he find a way to break through the protective walls around her heart and convince her they have a future that goes far beyond the bedroom?

Let Me In does exactly what it says on the tin.  It is short, sweet and hot. Do not be fooled by the cover though because this book also has a plot. I always love to see an effort made to write a proper story line in these types of stories so I won’t be too harsh about it, but unfortunately it is the plot where the problems with this story lie.

Really the problem I had here was with Tal, the main female character. She is incredibly stubborn and at times comes across as self-pitying. She constantly changes her mind and never seems to know what she is doing. My main problem was with the way she treated and felt about her mother I understand that dealing with someone who has manic depression is hard, and I love that Talia sticks by her mum but she also has an attitude that says everything is her mother’s fault. She sometimes sounds as though she believes depression is something you chose to have. I just didn’t like that at all.

Another problem was that towards the end the plot seemed to repeat itself. The same thing just seemed to happen over and over again. Talia just couldn’t stop changing her mind so everything just seemed to go round and round in circles.

There are also good things about this book. All in all it is very sweet, parts of it had that ‘aww’ factor and other parts were touching. Another good part of this book is Liam. He is generally a good guy, he can, at times let his temper get the better of him and he can be a little pushy but most the time he is caring and kind. There was not one part of this book where I doubted his feelings for Talia.

The love scenes are also a great part of this book. I found them to be less about the graphic-ness and more about the emotion which I would rather read 100% of the time. It is worth mentioning that this book is being labelled as BDSM. To be honest that is an untruth, it is mentioned but it is not acted upon at all. Do not go in to this expecting bondage and spanking because you will be disappointed.

Let me in is not a masterpiece and it is not a book I would rant and rave over but I certainly did enjoy it and would recommend to fans of the genre.

My rating 3 out of 5 stars.

Agree or disagree with the review? Let me know in the comments.

Want to find out more? Check out these links: Goodreads, AmazonUK, Amazon.com, Author Website

Something Wicked Comes This Way

Something Wicked Comes This Way

by Jaid Black, Diana Hunter, Regina Carlysle, Katalina Leon, Aubrey Ross and Laurann Dohner.

Genre: Romance, anthology, erotic, contemporary, historic fiction, were/shifter, ménage, sci-fi, vampires, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy.

(Kindle Edition.  Published May 1st 2012 by Ellora’s Cave)    
*The publisher provided  me with this book for review, via Netgalley*

Something Wicked Comes this way is pretty much what you would expect from an erotic literature anthology.  Some of the stories are good, some are bad and some are just damn bizarre.

All in all the book was good.  The stories were well written, well-developed and really imaginative…sometimes TOO imaginative. I am going to go through each story (as they appear in the book) and give you my thoughts on each one.

-Scarred and Kilt by Luarran Dohner:  This was a typical paranormal romance story.  Take one curious girl, one massive hulk of a vampire, add a desk and…you know where this is going.  This story is completely unrealistic, but it takes that fact and runs with it.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and because of that it ends up being fun.

-Tinderbox by Regina Carlysle:  This is a mating/shifting/menage story.  I am not going to lie, menage is not really my thing but I know there are a lot of readers out there that love these stories.  The plot was ok, the characters were ok it was just ok.  I found the main female character to be a little bit of a wet blanket and that is generally something I am not a fan of.  But if you are a fan of this particular type of story then I think you will like it.

– Asterion by Katalina Leon: I actually quite liked this one.  The story (especially in the beginning) was really quite interesting.  It was atmospheric and intriguing.  The characters were Good especially Darron who was all kinds of cute and endearing. There was a plot which I really liked.  I would have liked more of it and think it would make a great full length novel.  The ending felt rushed which was a real shame.

– Decadent Dance by Aubrey Ross: What is blue and has two penises?

NO! (I actually have no idea how many penises smurfs have but they are a bit weird so…)  The correct answer is the male protagonist of this story.  This to be quite honest is Avatar porn (who knew Sam Worthington was hiding that in his pants!) I cannot pretend that I enjoyed this story.  My tastes are a lot more…average.  I liked the idea though and the aliens sounded really pretty! But apart from that I didn’t really like it, it wasn’t just the alien business there were also some questionable behaviour from said alien that I didn’t quite like.

– Sahara Heat by Diana Hunter: This was my second favourite story in this anthology.    It had great characters that bounced off one another brilliantly.  There is a spark between them and their banter is entertaining.  I am not the biggest BDSM fan but this was on the light side so I was ok with it.  It also has a great male protagonist.  He looks like Thor, enough said.

– Fatman and Robyn by Jaid Black: This is by far my favourite story of the collection.  There is a great plot, it is well written, the characters are likeable, it is cute, hot and they don’t rush into having sex! 90% of this story has no sex in it at all and because of that you get to know the characters and you end up caring for them because you know them.

Something Wicked This Way Comes is not going to change you life.  Some of it is great and some is pretty bad.  If you are a fan of the genre then it has a little something for everyone.  also, despite its sometimes silliness there is plot to be found in these stories which is something I think should always be praised with these books.

My Rating 3 out 0f 5 stars!

What do you think? Let me know in the comments

Check out the links: Goodreads, AmazonUK, Amazon.com

The Booby Trap by Anne Browning Walker

The Booby Trap

by Anne Browning Walker

Genre: Romance, contemporary

Expected publication: June 1st 2012 by Pixel Entertainment/Butler Books    

  *The publisher provided  me with this book for review, via Netgalley*

 Welcome to The Booby Trap, a seedy bar where waitresses’ skirts are high, necklines are low and customers show up for the eye candy.
When brainy, beautiful, Harvard Ph.D. candidate Bambi Benson wants to study the women of the the Booby Trap for her dissertation, she goes undercover and joins them.  All is going well for Bambi until handsome local celebrity Trip Whitley enters the scene.
Hoping to shock his high-society family by dating a bimbo, Trip offers to pay Bambi to pretend to be his girlfriend.  She accepts his offer and bides her time, waiting for the right moment to reveal her true identity and teach Trip not to judge based on appearances.
After a series of dates carefully orchestrated for their publicity value, Bambi’s trap is set.  But there’s one problem: the predator might have fallen in love with her prey.

  

I had problems with this book from beginning to end.  It started when I realised the main character was called Bambi Benson (I’m sorry but every time I read her name I cringed, I couldn’t help it) and it continued from there.  The Booby Trap is not a bad book, it has a lot to like about it and I think that some people will really like it, but the goodness couldn’t override the issues I had with it.  All in all this book is alright; it is a quick read and had moments of fun but was just too unrealistic for me.

Another problem I had was the characters.  Bambi is ok but she seems to change her mind a lot and I never felt any connection with her.  She does have moments of greatness but again it is not enough to cover for the weaker parts of her character, I just wanted her to have more personality and substance.   I found Tripp to be pretty unlikable.  For about seventy percent of the book he came across as a spoilt brat he was stroppy and selfish.  I just couldn’t get behind him as a main character or love interest.

I also found the relationship between them to be unbelievable.  I felt like half the book she was completely uninterested in him and he was interested in someone else.  Then suddenly they were falling into bed/love with one another.  Their feelings took quite a long time to manifest and when they did it seemed to all happen too quickly.

By far the biggest problem with this book was that it was completely predictable.  There are a million other books and movies out there that are about the same thing.  This is a plot that has been overdone and there seems to be no more originality in it.

I liked the messages in this book; it has some strong themes about feminism and the different forms that takes.  It is also about not judging a book by its cover.  I have a lot of time for books that have positive messages in them and so I applaud Walker for adding a little substance.

My rating 2.5 out of 5

Want to find out more? Visit these links: Goodreads

Agree or disagree with this review? Let me know in the comments.

The Wrangler by Lindsay McKenna

The Wrangler

by  

Lindsay McKenna

Genre: Romance, Adult, Western, Thriller

Expected publication: June 19th 2012 by HQN Books

 *The publisher provided  me with this book for review, via Netgalley*

Can a city boy make good in the Wild West? After Wall Street collapses, investment banker Griff McPherson trades in his suits and ties for Stetsons and cowboy boots. He returns to the Wyoming ranch he co-owns with his brother, but it’s not exactly a happy homecoming. So to prove to everyone, including himself, that he belongs back in Jackson Hole, he takes a post as a wrangler on another ranch.  Air force lieutenant Val Hunter has just returned to the Bar H ranch to help her ailing grandmother run the property. While it is full of unhappy memories, Val is determined to do right by her home. Her new hire is easy on the eyes and a tough wrangler to boot, yet her instincts make it hard for her to trust him. When a nefarious neighbour endangers her land, Val is forced to accept Griff’s help-but will she finally be able to open her heart?

I really, really wanted to like The Wrangler.  I liked the premise and I like cowboys.  Western ranch romances tend to get under my skin, there is just something about them I love.  So you can imagine how excited I was to be given a copy of this book to read and review. I was over the moon.  But I am afraid the excitement was for nothing and I ended up coming away disappointed.

I felt like the story started too quickly, you were instantly thrown very matter of factly into Val’s bleak history.  I know you have to get to these points in books I just wasn’t expecting it right on at the beginning.  It would have helped if the information was delivered in an interesting and engaging way, but it wasn’t. Instead I got a bland and very structured conversation that felt unnatural, something that happens a lot in this book.  The way the conversation is put together says a lot about the writing to be found here. Technically it is fine, it is understandable it flows…but there is just nothing to it.  Everything felt a little sparse, a little empty.  There is a lot of unnecessary talking, a lot of long-winded conversations that were not needed.  The characters tell us how they are feeling by the way they act and by their thoughts, we do not need them to then talk about their feelings with one another.  All of this leads (partly) to there being a lot of repetition.  The characters seem to say the same things a lot, not only that but there it a lot of repetition of phrases as well.

I felt like there was a good story here.  If everything was scaled back a bit and focused more on the romance between Griff and Val then this review would be totally different.  Instead, there are a lot of subplots involving drugs, FBI agents and feuding brothers that were not totally needed.  The brothers were a nice touch, and ties into another book in the series which is fine.  But the other sub plots were not interesting enough and were not tied up at the end. The romance takes a back seat to a lot of this and only really kicks off around the 80% mark.  It was as though the writer couldn’t make up her mind what kind of book she wanted to write and so tried to do both.  This lead to everything feeling half-done which, in turn, made a boring book.  I hate it when I see unused potential and this had it in spades, I just wish more was made of it.

The best thing about this book is the characters.  For the most part they are strong in their roles.  Gus is a great-grandmother she is a complete cheese ball.  Honestly, the things this old lady says! But she gets away with it because she is sweet and has the most amazingly strong backbone. Another good character was Curt.  He was awful and filled the villain role perfectly.  He really was a snivelling weasel and there was nothing likable about him at all.

Unfortunately, the weakest character was the main one.  Val is really quite bizarre.  I liked that she started off standoffish and untrusting but then grew to love and live again, her journey was great but it was the way she thought about things that bothered me.  Firstly she acts as though Griff being attractive is a real inconvenience and problem. Sure a good-looking guy can be a distraction but a burden?  Never! Also Val feels like she cannot trust Gus or any other man because her dad used to beat her, I get it, I have no problem with that.  Apart from the fact that she used to be engaged and in love with a guy who was lovely to her and never hurt her.  She was happy with him and trusted him…so why does she find it nearly impossible with other men especially one that treats her as well as Griff does.

The main selling point of this book is Griff.  He is not just attractive he is also charming, kind and sweet.  Sure, he is strong and big and manly but he also has a shyness about him that is endearing and a softness that is refreshing.  He is not pushy; or broody instead he is head and heart smart.  He is just a genuinely good guy.

At the end of the day the biggest problem with The Wrangler is that I feel like I have read it a million times before, there are hundreds of books out there just like this one and unfortunately for The Wrangler some of them are better.  The romance in this is lacking, getting to it is like pulling teeth and in the end I lost my patience.  I like a slow burner but I also like a story to move forward, at times this felt so slow it almost stopped. 

This book had a lot of potential but unfortunately I found it lacking.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars.

Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

Want to find out more? Goodreads, AmazonUK, Amazon.com, Authors Website

Consent to Love by Abby Wood

Title: Consent to Love

Author: Abby Wood

Genre: Adult, romance, drama, erotica

Average Goodreads rating: 3.08/5

My rating: 2/5

(Arc, Published April 2nd 2012 by Carina Press)

*The publisher provided me with this book for review, via Netgalley.*

Blurb: Twenty-four-year-old small-town girl Ana Reynold serves beer at the local bar, tries to keep her beater car running, and dreams of a better life as a painter. If she can learn to make a decent steak, she might get promoted to cook—and earn enough for her real heart’s desire. Right now, that doesn’t include romance.  But when she meets a tall, dark and sexy Native American man named Kane, Ana can’t take her eyes off him—or stop thinking about him. But she’d better. Everyone knows the proud Lakota who raises horses wants nothing to do with a townie barmaid who’ll bring shame to his people.  Except Kane can’t get Ana off his mind. He proposes a red-hot weekend in bed, a no-strings affair to end Monday morning. Yet once Kane brings the outsider onto Lakota land, everything changes.

Consent to Love by Abby Wood is just one of those books that seemed to never get going.  It just went through the motions, moving from one scene to another without lingering to flesh anything out.

Unfortunately the characters are no better; there is no depth to them.  No real personality or story behind them.  They just are.  Ana spends most her time acting like a teenager or a porn star.  Kane seems sulky and at times pervy.

There is a lot of sex in this book but it was too overdone.  I never got the sense that these two people cared about one another, but instead just liked having sex in as many dirty ways as they could imagine.  What I really disliked about the sex was the ‘dirty talk’.  Ana, who came across as shy suddenly develops a potty mouth whenever Kane is within 5 feet of her and starts shouting ‘f*ck me’ and saying the word ‘pussy’ as though it is part of her regular vocabulary.

There was a lot that could have been done here.  It could have gone into more depth about race in relationships, culture and discrimination.  It touches on these subjects extremely lightly and doesn’t really linger there at all.  Instead it focuses on sex scenes.

There are moments where this could have been something but it never turns into anything.  It is a quick read if you like erotica but to be honest there is better stuff out there.

Goodreads / AmazonUK / B&N / Author Website